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Thursday, 6 September 2018

#StillOurBaby Lenny.

Another beautiful Still Our Baby story. This story is from Natalie, who is sharing her precious little boy Lenny.
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Lenny Stephen Cross is our first son. He was born on 1st August 2014 at 25 weeks and 3 days and lived for a very short 10 hours. This is our story. 

Lenny was due in November 2014. When I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited about spending our first Christmas as a family of 3. I imagined all the cute festive outfits I would dress him in and all the memories we would make in our new house together. I found the start of my pregnancy pretty easy. All my scans showed a healthy baby and we found out early on at a private gender scan that he was a he! We started buying bits and bobs for him and making a collection in his nursery. We were so excited. 

It all started to go wrong when I hit 25 weeks. Completely out of nowhere I started having contractions. I spent a few days in hospital until they decided that I wasn’t actually in labour and sent me back home. Unfortunately, when I was at home my waters broke. We rushed back to hospital, where I had to have an emergency c-section as Lenny was breech. 

The EMCS was the most traumatic experience of my life. It felt very panicked and rushed and I lost lots of blood which caused me to pass out. I felt suffocated, very nauseous and very dizzy. It felt like people were jumping up and down on my chest. It took around an hour but felt like three. Lenny was born at 4.57am and let out a big cry, which was amazing and heart-breaking at the same time. He was taken straight to the neonatal care unit. At first it looked promising but then it all went downhill. They tried for a few hours to stabilise him but unfortunately his body just wasn’t ready for the world. They told us that there was nothing more they could do and asked if we were ready to say bye. They wheeled my bed up to him and my partner and I held him in our arms whilst they took the breathing tube out and he passed away.


Lenny was kept in a cool cot in a room next door to us so we could wheel him in whenever we wanted.Saying goodbye was sickening, I felt heartbroken and torn like I didn't want leave him, but by then his appearance was changing for the worse. I felt like I really needed to let him go so I could remember him as he was when he was born.


I was then discharged from the hospital. Everything seemed totally pointless when we went home. I just couldn’t believe I wasn’t pregnant anymore- but my saggy belly was a constant reminder. In the immediate days after having Lenny I couldn’t be bothered to do anything, even getting washed and dressed was too much effort. We did have so much support from the hospital, the community midwife and the bereavement midwife, but I really missed my Mum. She sadly died of cancer years before and she also went through the heartbreak of losing her first child. He was born with hydrocephalus and died within weeks. I really wanted to hear her wise words of support and comfort. She went on to have 3 children after my eldest brother and I needed to hear that there was some hope for us to get the family we so desperately wanted. 



We never found out why it happened which was agonising. I almost wanted them to find something wrong so I could ‘fix’ it before we started trying again. We were desperate for a baby but the bereavement midwife said they usually advise at least 3 months before trying again. Three months seemed like a lifetime to me. I felt so scared that having conceived Lenny so easily before must've been a fluke and all of a sudden I felt inadequate and like my body was a massive failure. I spent the next year raising £3,323.36 for SANDS in memory of Lenny. We had donations and a family fun day. I then fell pregnant with my little rainbow. Fortunately my pregnancy with Denzel, whilst utterly terrifying, was mercifully plain sailing. He was born by elective section at 39 weeks. After Denzel was born I decided to set up The Little Lenny Company in Lenny’s memory. I really love seeing his name out there. 


We’ll always talk about him and not a day goes by when we don’t love and miss our first son. Thanks for reading.
Natalie xx

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Thank you so much Natalie for being a part of this series and for sharing Lenny with us. You can find The Little Lenny Company here.

Katie xx
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Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Six Months.

Image from Google

We're somehow six months on since Jonah's birth. It's hard to describe this feeling. It feels as though he was only born yesterday, but then it feels so long ago. I hate that the further away from January we get, the further away it is since I last held him in my arms. It truly has been the hardest six months of our lives. 

But I've also learnt a lot about myself and life after loss. I've learnt that six months is no time at all, on this grief journey. But that it also feels like a huge milestone. That it doesn't get better, but it slowly gets easier. And that some days will still knock the wind out of your sails and that's okay. On those days, I just need to take a breather and allow myself to feel what I need to feel, to survive. 

I'm no longer the person I was 6 months ago. I'm a mother of two but having to learn to parent a baby that isn't here. I haven't had to juggle night feeds, with looking after a toddler. Instead I've learnt that I have had to accept that going to the crematorium is going to be a part of my two year olds life. That death will be something that is discussed openly and that she will see her parents cry inconsolably about the loss of her brother. 

I watch pregnant ladies and newborns through a different pair of eyes. I imagine what my life would be like if Jonah were alive. I long for that feeling of him kicking me or to hear his heart beat again. I find myself staring at babies and imagine what Jonah would look like or what he would be learning to do. And then my heart breaks all over again, knowing we will never know who he would have been. I've learnt to block feelings out because sometimes it's just too much. I still long for those new born cuddles and would give anything to be kept up all night with a not so tired baby. I guess that's something you don't realise about baby loss, the want for a baby never goes away, even in the darkest days. 

The biggest hurdle to get over now is dealing with the daily flashbacks from the trauma I experienced. Living with PTSD means my anxiety can go into overdrive at any moment. There are many triggers that are pretty unavoidable, like the sight and sound of an ambulance, doctors or hospital appointments, anything hospital related on the TV or radio - that kind of thing. I can be taken back to that night, in a second. I'm lying on my bathroom floor, soaked in blood. Or I'm in the hospital with not even the strength to roll over. And then the weakness comes over me, as if the blood is draining out of my body all over again. Somedays I'm so exhausted by my thoughts, it's as if I've not slept for weeks, yet I have to somehow keep living my "normal" life. 

People say they don't know how I do It, or I'm so brave, but I have no choice. And then others think I should be over it by now. When you lose a child, you will never be over it. When you've experienced such a life changing event, you will never be over it. Most people are lucky enough, to never have to fight for their lives, to come so close to no longer being here. Most people are lucky enough to only ever see someone in a coma on TV. That's not our reality. There is no happy ending to this story, I can't just switch over the channel when I've had enough. This is my life and somedays it's just relentless. 

But some days are better. I see the beauty in everything now. It's like my eyes have been opened a little more, to see the little things around me. I will always spot a butterfly dancing around or be able to pick out the prettiest of flowers - after speaking to a few baby loss mamas, this seems like a common theme. We're suddenly able to appreciate the little things in life, in a completely different way. And I guess that's something to take from all this. The sun still rises and the days continue, whether you do or not. And despite everything, I want to be a part of this world and share my story. Because it might not be beautiful or have the fairy tale ending, but it's my story and it needs to be heard. 

Katie xx
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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

#StillOurBaby Carys.

Another beautiful #StillOurBaby story, from the lovely Megan and her precious little girl Carys. Megan discusses life in NICU and parenting after neonatal loss. An incredibly inspiring story.

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A special thank you to Katie for letting me share Carys’ story. 
My name is Megan, and I am the mum of Carys, our little Sleeping Beauty.
I found out I was pregnant back in 2015, totally unplanned and thrown into a world of decisions and life changes I was in no way prepared for. It was terrifying, but the moment I saw that tiny being growing inside me on the 12 week scan, nothing else mattered. I was going to protect that little human from all the bad things this world threw our way, and I was going to love them more than anything else. The pregnancy went pretty smoothly; the 20 week scan came around fairly quickly and we were both over the moon when the sonographer scanning me said that our little girl was healthy and doing well. I excitedly told family and friends that I was expecting a girl and started to plan properly for this new exciting adventure. However, this normal, ‘easy’ pregnancy all ended very abruptly on the 5thOctober 2015. Her movements had reduced, and they weren’t as strong, and I started to question if something wasn’t quite right. So, on my lunch break from work, a friend drove me to the hospital to get checked over. Little did we know that we wouldn’t be going back to work after lunch, and I was about to give birth, 13 weeks early. Within an hour or so of being at the hospital, we were rushed into surgery, and she was born. 
Carys Aurora Greasley, was born at 15:16 on the 5thOctober 2015, weighing a tiny 1lb 3oz. She didn’t cry, she struggled to breathe alone, but she was alive. They let me see her briefly before they took her up to the neonatal unit, and I just couldn’t quite believe that I had made her, she was so perfect and tiny. Later that evening, when I was in slightly less shock and had told my family we were both okay, Carys’ dad (Patrick) and I were both taken to meet our little love properly for the first time, and it was without a doubt one of the best moments of our story. She was covered in tubes, and wires and monitors, but she wriggled around with her little pink hat on, fist pumping the air and showing us both that she wasn’t giving up without a fight. The consultants were honest with us at this point, she was so much smaller than she should have been for 27 weeks and had obviously been struggling for a couple of weeks inside me, so the first 48 hours were touch and go. But she battled on. 
She overcame so many obstacles, defied all the odds week after week, and slowly started to grow and develop. Her personality shone through in every aspect of what she did, and I questioned on a daily basis how we had managed to make such an incredibly strong and brave human being. She was doing so well that she moved hospital to ensure we were closer to family. She moved out of intensive care, and there was even talk about the prospect of finally taking her home with me. 


On the 29thNovember 2015 though, our world was turned upside down once more. The hospital called to say Carys had taken a turn for the worse overnight, and they believed she had developed Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). I rushed to the hospital, feeling unimaginable guilt that I wasn’t there to hold her hand, watched as they prepped her for surgery, and watched as a crash team tried to save her. I couldn’t leave her, so I stood helplessly around a group of medics who frantically ran around trying to keep my tiny little 2lb baby alive. We held her as her heart took its final beats and prayed this wasn’t happening to us. We spent the rest of the day with her, had our only family photos as a family of three, and had close family come to support us. Then we left the hospital, with the boxes of her things, knowing we wouldn’t be returning the next day to see her bright blue eyes staring back at us from the incubator. 

Fast forward to now, and we are just over two and half years from that day. Memories of her scent, of her beautiful face, of her personality are captured in limited photos, and items of hers that are stored in a memory box, but most importantly in our minds. I am ashamed to say those memories aren’t as clear as they used to be, that I can’t remember the wrinkles on her forehead in as much detail as I could back then, but I guess that is the reality of time, memories always fade despite our best efforts to save them. I dream about her daily. I dream about the life I could have had with her, about the family we could have been. The waves of grief still hit me hard, and I can whole heartedly say that I will miss her till the end of time. 
Parenting a child that I no longer hold in my arms has been far from easy, but I imagine that she would have kept me on my toes if she had lived too. I have tried hard to keep her memory alive over the last few years, and we will continue to do this forever. We have raised money in her memory for Bliss and Sands, two charities that were incredible to us throughout Carys’ life on the neonatal unit, and in her passing. We held a charity event for her first birthday, held bake sales, have taken her on adventures, and Patrick has even run 8 half marathons in the last year to represent the 8 amazing weeks we had with her (actually 9 now, and he has the running bug too so there will be a lot more runs in her memory I imagine!). 


She helped me find my passion in clinical research, and I decided to carry out an MSc in her honour, dedicating my dissertation to her. I hope one day I can continue the research further. I hope one day that Carys' legacy will be the reason that care for infants at risk of NEC improves. It never quite seems enough though, I always feel like I am not doing enough for her, that she deserves more from me. I have felt immense pride, joy and love since Carys was born. She showed me what it feels like to love someone unconditionally, and it is a love stronger than I can ever explain. She showed me strength, bravery, and determination, and because of her I still wake up every day and survive.
I was told at the start of this journey that things would get easier, that over time that gut-wrenching pain would soften, and in some ways, it has. But there will forever be those days when we both sit there and question why. Grief still knocks us back, possibly catching us more off guard than in those earlier days. The reality of baby loss really is lifelong. We obviously miss those moments we physically shared with her, but my god do we miss the moments that we didn’t. The first walk, the first word, the first day at school, the graduations, the future - that’s our reality now, a lifetime of what ifs. 


Grief is forever a part of us now, just like Carys is. They will forever shape our lives, and she will forever be on our minds. Our little Briar Rose, our Sleeping Beauty for always. 
To see more of Carys' story and adventures:
IG: @CarysAurora
FB:@CarysAurora
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Thank you Megan, for sharing your beautiful Carys with us, such a special little girl. 

If you'd like to be a part of the #StillOurBaby series please contact me. 

Katie xx

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